Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8.0 may have a secret weapon against iPad mini

January 18, 2013

By this time next month, there could be another Galaxy Note in Samsung’s arsenal of mobile devices. SamMobile claims to have uncovered specifications for an announced Android tablet called the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0. The alleged 8-inch slate would be extremely similar in size to Apple’s iPad mini, have a slightly higher resolution, and offer one key differentiation: an included S-Pen for digital ink activities.

The reported specifications don’t include one key piece of information: There’s no indication which chip will power the Galaxy Note 8.0. It’s a very safe bet that a Samsung processor will be inside and I’d hope for one of the company’s new quad-core Exynos chips to be present, paired with the reported 2 GB of memory. The display is expected to be a Super Clear LCD running at 1280 x 800 resolution, which is slightly higher than the 1024 x 768 panel used on Apple’s iPad mini. Android 4.2 is expected and the tablet is rumored to be available in both a Wi-Fi and a GSM 3G version.

I owned a similar slate prior: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. I liked the size of it but find the actual tablet app experience to be slightly better on iOS. That’s arguable, of course, but I’m not seeing as many developers as I expected truly taking advantage of the larger screens and higher resolutions found on Android tablets. But as I learned with my Galaxy Note 2 smartphone, there’s more value in a digital pen than I had expected as well. That’s something that could sway some small tablet buyers to the Galaxy Note 8.0 if such a device does arrive.

Before dismissing the idea of a digital pen, consider that when I bought the Galaxy Note 2, I really had no intention of using the S-Pen. I quickly found a number of valuable uses for the stylus, mainly because Samsung has developed some excellent mobile apps that are pen-friendly. If the company continues to mature and add to those apps — and I see no reason for them to abandon that strategy — a Galaxy Note 8.0 could give some potential iPad mini buyers a reason to consider Samsung’s slate.

I’m not suggesting that such a device will outsell the iPad mini; a pen alone won’t do that. However, Samsung appears to be the only Android manufacturer really trying to differentiate its Android tablets with innovative hardware and software — it also supports multi-window app usage — which I think gives it a better chance than its peers to compete against Apple’s mobile products.

(c) 2013, GigaOM.com.

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